Ducks Still Missing the Point in 2-0 Setback to Avalanche


It doesn’t take much to defeat the Mighty Awful Ducks these days. The Colorado Avalanche needed only one goal Wednesday night at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim.

Rene Corbet’s power-play goal with 5:58 left in the game broke a scoreless tie, propelled the Avalanche to a 2-0 victory and gave the Ducks their 14th loss in 21 games.

Peter Forsberg added an empty-net goal with 1:06 left after a breakout pass by defenseman J.J. Daigneault struck goaltender Guy Hebert as he headed to the bench in favor of a sixth skater.


The Ducks played a credible defensive-oriented game against Pacific Division-leading Colorado, but created a late-game opening and the Avalanche sneaked through.

When defenseman David Karpa went to the penalty box for two minutes for tripping, the Avalanche took full advantage with their power play. Corbet skated out of the right corner with a loose puck and snapped a quick shot through traffic and past Hebert.

Following his recent method of operation, Coach Pierre Page gave his top two lines most of the ice time beginning late in the second period.

It didn’t help against Colorado. But it’s as much a way to jump-start the slumping Ducks, 4-14-3 in the last 21 games and 15-25-8 at the all-star break, as a realization he doesn’t have the depth to compete for a playoff berth.

Page also acknowledged feeling many of the frustrations Ron Wilson felt while trying to get the most out of his thin ranks last season.

“Ron Wilson was as frustrated as anybody in the NHL until Christmas last season,” Page said. “He probably pulled every hair out of his head. He had to do some things that made half the team happy and the other half of the team mad.”


Last season, the Ducks’ top-line players, Paul Kariya, Steve Rucchin and Teemu Selanne, were told to create scoring chances as they saw fit. The other three lines were instructed to think defense first.

Slowly but surely, Page has adopted many of Wilson’s strategies as the season has progressed. Early in training camp, for example, Page said he was reluctant to place restrictions on his third- and fourth-line players.

“We’ve put some limitations on players now, yeah,” Page said. “Two lines do some [offensive-oriented] things and the two other lines do other [more defensive] things. It’s why we’re creating roster moves. We want to create opportunities for people to surprise us.

“We’ve reached a status quo. We’ve got to break out of it. We’ve got to find players who are getting better. We can’t just play two lines all night. Somebody has got to step up and do the job.”

Page gave rookie center Bob Wren, the leading scorer at Cincinnati of the American Hockey League, a crack at it Wednesday. Wren didn’t play much, but he broke in alone twice on Colorado goaltender Patrick Roy to create scoring opportunities.

He didn’t score, but no else seemed capable of putting the puck in the net either.

Nothing clicked for the Ducks in the first period plus the first few minutes of the second when Page played all four lines. In fact, nothing clicked later in the second period either.


The Ducks couldn’t put anything past Roy. Nor could the Avalanche crack Duck goalie Guy Hebert, and the teams went to the third period locked in a scoreless tie.

This was not a typical snoozefest over the game’s first 40 minutes, however. Each team played it fairly straight. Neither team sat back in a neutral-zone trap, hoping for the opposition to make a mistake that would produce a goal.

The game was wide-open with plenty of scoring chances to keep it interesting for the sellout crowd. The fans seemed to enjoy watching Kariya and Selanne work without having to haul opponents around the ice for most of the game.

They also didn’t seem to mind watching Forsberg and Joe Sakic attempt to work their offensive magic--as long as they didn’t beat Hebert, that is.